As someone who is outside the decision-making process, I believe that when the Council reconsiders it’s decision not to pay Joe Anderson’s legal fees, as it is legally obliged to do, it should consider all the consequences that would flow from changing their decision.
As always, I make clear that I understand that although arrests have been made on the suspicion of certain irregularities no-one has been charged with anything and may never be. That is why I am being very guarded about what I say here and so should everyone else. A key point of the law in this country is that people are innocent unless guilt is proved through a due process.
We have continually received warnings that the indemnity will only work for elected representatives if we are acting properly in undertaking our duties. I believe that this is the right call. If someone attacks me for a decision I have made in accordance with the practices of the Council and in good faith then the Council should defend me.
However, the Council should not defend me in circumstances where the suggestion is that I have not been doing things properly and in accordance with due process within the Council. If the Council does not hold its ground after due consideration and come up with a stronger case it will open the way for any elected representative to plead innocence for any actions taken whilst an elected member and claim all legal expenses if they were pleading their innocence.
If the Council does not hold its ground after due consideration and come up with a stronger case it will open the way for any elected representative to plead innocence for any actions taken whilst an elected member and claim all legal expenses if they were pleading their innocence.
We know that the machinery of the council when led by Anderson and Kavanagh was corrupted, broken, inefficient and with huge consequences to the people of Liverpool and people who invested in our City. We know that because of an expert team led by Max Caller who produced the report which the Council considered in May. Caller and his team were people with vast experience and they signed an agreement with the Police for the appropriate flow of information between Police and Government on a two-way basis.
The importance of this should not be underestimated. The Police cannot reasonably be expected to know the ins and outs of Council procedure and therefore to a certain extent to know the difference between good practice and bad practice. The Caller team does know local government well and will, I suspect, have supplied the Police with all sorts of information and suggestions which will have added to the complexity of the Police’s work and therefore the time that this investigation will take.
Given what was revealed in the Caller report it is clear that improper actions have been taken. Due process has either been shambolic or ignored. Caller shows that the vast majority of property transactions were either not appropriate or not appropriately recorded or dealt with. It is absolutely right that the justice system and finally the courts should consider whether the system corruption of the Council as a whole has also been accompanied by criminal corruption by individuals.
There are huge sums involved here. The current estimate is more than £110,000,000 has been lost in one way or another. On top of that we learned last week that LOBO loans which other Councils realised were bad value in an era of low interest rates and got out of them years ago have continued to be held and paid by Liverpool Council with a potential lost of up to £30,000,000.
Anderson has already lost one Judicial Review about the way that the Police behaved. He may or may not have won this one because at present the Council has only been asked to reconsider its decision; he will surely lose a third one about the Caller Report when it is absolutely clear that the Government has a legal right to intervene in the way that it did. Taxpayers should not be paying for fishing trips into the justice system.
I urge the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to either decide quickly to proceed or not proceed with charging or a lot more money will be shelled out by the hard-pressed taxpayers of Liverpool to deal with this squalid matter. This investigation, “Operation Aloft, has been going on since autumn 2019. A similar and possibly related investigation, “Operation Sheridan” has been ongoing since 2017.
Yes, justice must be done and seen to be done for the possible defendants in any case. But justice must also be done and seen to be done on behalf of the hard-pressed taxpayers of Liverpool. Please Police and CPS bring this case forward or drop it so that we can all get on with other necessary actions.